Kaş-ing in on the Charms of Turkey’s Southern Mediterranean Coast

  • Ethan Gelber
  • 7 August 2010

The seaside town of Kaş (pronounced cash), situated between Antalya and Dalaman on the Turkish Riviera is a true gem – enchanting, captivating and as picture-perfect as a film set. Hardly surprising, then, that the area does indeed boast its fair share of links to the literary and film worlds.

Kayaköy Village was abandoned after the 1923 population exchange between Greek Muslims and Turkish (Greek) Orthodox Christians

Kayaköy Village was abandoned after the 1923 population exchange between Greek Muslims and Turkish (Greek) Orthodox Christians. The village was never re-inhabited and is now a museum. (Photo courtesy of John Hogue)

Ghost Town

Louis de Bernières, famed author of the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which catapulted the Greek island of Kefalonia into superstardom, has also worked his magic on the village of Kayaköy, not far from Kaş, on Turkey’s Lycian coast.

Kayaköy – or Kaya Village as it is also known – was inhabited by Greek nationals until 1923, when, following the Turkish War of Independence, , there was a population exchange between the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece. Kayaköy, now still abandoned and preserved as a museum, is used as the setting of de Bernières’s 2004 novel, Birds Without Wings, sometimes described as a Turkish War and Peace.

Kayaköy is now a popular stop-off with tourists en route to the nearby town of Fethiye.

Walk Like a Lycian

The 500-kilometre Lycian Way stretches from Fethiye to the ancient city of Antalya and is one of the big draws of a trip to the south. Waymarked in 1999, the footpath snakes around dramatic coastline and mountain terrain, using a network of ancient roads, shepherd’s paths and forest tracks. It was voted one of the world’s top ten walks by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper.

Numerous ruins, temples, castles, ports and local villages are dotted along the Lycian Way, guaranteeing sightseeing distractions are plentiful. A popular undertaking with hikers during the cooler spring and autumn months, the Lycian Way is also attractive to outdoor adventurers pursuing activities such as canyoning, yachting and scuba diving.

The harbour of Meis is charming and a real highlight of any visit

Just a 30-minute boat ride from Kas, the Greek island of Meis makes for a great day trip. The harbour area is charming and a real highlight of any visit, with a warren of alleys and houses behind the pretty waterfront shops and restaurants. (Photo courtesy of John Hogue)

Island Idyll

Another popular destination in the region is Meis (‘Kastellorizo’ in Greek), just six kilometres off the coast of Kaş. This Dodecanese Greek island is an easy day trip from the Turkish mainland.

Movie buffs may be interested to learn that Meis served as the setting for the Oscar-winning Italian movie Mediterraneo, which follows the exploits of a group of Italian soldiers marooned on a Greek island after their vessel is sunk in World War II.

Troubled World War II vessels aside, boats are the most reliable means of making the crossings to the island. One fitness-focussed alternative approach, however, is the yearly swim and canoe race.

Water sports mavens know that diving is particularly popular in the area and there are many dive sites in the waters off Kaş and Meis. Dives can be arranged to suit all levels of expertise, but experienced underwater explorers can take advantage of some great wreck and deep dive opportunities. There’s even an option to explore the remains of an Italian WWII plane 60 metres down!

The crystal-clear water and almost daily sunshine mean that deep diving is very popular in and around Kas

The crystal-clear water and almost daily sunshine mean that deep diving is very popular in and around Kas and there are also plenty of great WWII wrecks to explore. whl.travel's local connection in the area can arrange dives or courses to suit all abilities. (Photo courtesy of John Hogue)

Homage to Homer

No review of this part of the world is complete without a mention of Homer’s masterpiece, The Odyssey. The ancient town of Olympos, located in a valley 90 kilometres southwest of Antalya, probably takes its name from nearby Mount Olympos. According to Homer’s epic, it is from here that the god Poseidon looked out to sea and witnessed the storm that shipwrecked Odysseus’s boat as he sailed from Calypso’s island.

In the modern era, back in 1997, the town played host to a dramatic recreation of The Odyssey. The lavish small-screen adaptation boasted a bevy of big-name actors including Isabella Rossellini and Christopher Lee!

A very popular area with tourists keen savour centuries of fascinating Greek and Roman culture and history, it’s also a hit with adrenaline junkies who can try their hand at canyoning, mountain biking, rock climbing and sea kayaking in the surrounding Olympos-Bey Mountains National Park (Olimpos-Beydağları Milli Parkı).

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Ethan Gelber

In addition to his freelance travel writing (Lonely Planet author, ex-AFAR Ambassador, Huffington Post Travel blogger and more), Ethan has agitated tirelessly for responsible/sustainable travel practices, family travel, keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. Among many other things, Ethan is editorial director of the Family Travel Association, a co-founder of OutBounding, and tackles content projects for HomeExchange.com and RW Social, which produces the NY Trav Fest. Previously, Ethan was Chief Communications Officer of the WHL Group, for which he founded and edited The Travel Word (this now-independent blog); publications manager of the French government tourist office (Atout France) in NYC; and helped manage a Paris-based bicycle tour operator.
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adventure travel, architecture & landmarks, Asia, ecotours, fine arts, islands, museums, outdoors, Turkey, Western Asia,

2 Responses to “Kaş-ing in on the Charms of Turkey’s Southern Mediterranean Coast”

  1. Mehmet says:

    Kas and southern turkey is the best and the the most natural part of Turkey.
    everyone must go and visit St. Nicholas Church, Myra, dive in the replika of the most ship wreck in the world The uluburun Ship wreck, Patara the longest beach in turkey, Saklikent gorge the longest gorge in turkey, the lycian way the longest trekking route in turkey.. Kalkan one of the best honeymoon town in europe according the sunday times. check http://www.antalyahotels.travel

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